The Hunt Fixed Gear Crit Race

By Ben Butterfield • Events • 9 May 2012

A few months ago, my good friends at Tokyo Fixed¬†announced a brakeless fixed gear crit race that was to be held at the Hillingdon Cycle Circuit¬†on 6th May. This sounded like a blast to me, so I didn’t waste any time registering my place on Rider HQ. Over the next couple of weeks, the list filled up with riders including Chas and Walton from Mash SF, Rudy and David from 5th Floor, Vojtech Blazejovsky from Brixton Cycles and a number of other formidable riders. At this stage I realised that I was going to need some serious training to stand a chance of finishing let alone qualifying!

The Training

In the weeks leading up to the race, I made two visits to the track, both of which were very wet and cold days. Here’s a photo that Max from Tokyo Fixed took on the second training day:

The track is made up of a couple of reasonably long straights and a collection of fairly nasty corners. You can see the layout in this aerial photo:

The First Heat

The first heat got under way and the boys from 5th Floor took an early lead. After a few laps, the pace started to level and the pack remained tight. The 20 minutes ended and the fast 3 laps began with riders clearly upping the pace to get themselves in a good position. In the penultimate lap, a rider from Pristine Fixed Gear went down on the final corner and two other riders were forced off of the track. This included Tim from the Tokyo Fixed team who pulled an impressive skid across the car park, but it wasn’t enough to stop him hitting the solid metal fence at speed. The marshals rushed in and Tim looked in pain, so an ambulance was called and he was taken away. He turned out not to be too badly hurt, but it was a scary thought that a rider as experienced as him had caught some trouble literally minutes before I was to make my racing debut!

My Heat

There was a bit of a delay before the second heat and I took the opportunity to do some warm up laps. Once the marshals were ready to start the heat, we all pulled up to the line and I stared into the distance trying to get some concentration. I was rider number 52.

The heat started and I moved into a reasonable position near the front of the pack, but had trouble with the corners from the very first lap. Perhaps 170mm cranks weren’t a good idea! I quickly realised that I needed to be outside the pack when we reached the corners but could catch them pretty quick once we got on the straight.

Me chasing the pack:

The second heat on the uphill straight:

The 20 mins ended and the fast 3 laps began. On the second to last lap, I was near the middle of the pack on the uphill straight when disaster struck. One of the riders in front of me and to the left went down and a number of others got taken out as they ran into the back of him. I remember seeing a silver disc wheel flying through the air at head height, before the pack swerved right to avoid the trouble. I went with the pack and ended up on the grass for a bit before rejoining the track and realising I was lucky to still be upright. By the this point, I’d pretty much lost all chances of being able to catch the leaders, but at least I was uninjured and could enjoy a few beers whilst I watched the final!

Video Of The Racing

More Photos

Here are some photos of the day, courtesy of awesome photographer and good friend of mine, Juan Trujillo Andrades.

Rudy Melo warming up:

The 5th Floor guys setting the pace:

Vojtech Blazejovsky maintaining his position in the pack:

Jacob from Tokyo Fixed chasing down the leader:

Chas from Mash SF hard on the heels of Francesco Martucci:

Francesco Martucci taking the win with his lapped team mate controversially on the line at the same time:

Fish’s busted rear wheel:

And Klemens Mantzos from Vienna, who lent Fish his rear wheel and shared a lift back to town with us:

Until Next Year

This was an awesome day of racing, mixed with a good portion of terror for me, but I enjoyed the whole experience immensely. I feel honoured to have ridden alongside some of the big names in fixed gear and am very much looking forward to having another go in 2013. I’ll bring some shorter cranks, work on my cornering technique and show them how it’s done next time – honest!

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